It’s Hockey Week in Tampa and the Lightning have opened another rink, this one at the Ruskin Parks and Recreational Center.
The team is trying to expand into communities where families may not be familiar with the sport.
Ten-year-old Kara Rodriguez is one of many children living in Ruskin who are anxious to learn the game.
“It’s a fun sport. I mean, who wouldn’t want to do it?” said Rodriguez.
“The reality of it is that the game of ice hockey is not part of people’s DNAs here,” said Jay Feaster, Vice President of Community Hockey Development for the Tampa Bay Lightning.
The Lightning aren’t just branching out into more rural communities, but in this case Spanish speaking communities.
“Diversity in the NHL has already started and it starts right here,” said Dave Andreychuk.
NHL Hall of Famer, and captain of the Lighting’s 2004 Stanley Cup winning team, Andreychuk said when he first visited Ruskin 10 years ago there were many kids who didn’t know anything about the sport. Access to a rink and equipment is literally a game changer.
“This is the future, this is where we are going, these kids are going to be our NHL players, regardless of where they are coming from, if we can put a stick in their hands that’s where it all starts,” said Andreychuk.
Below is the schedule for Hockey Week in Tampa Bay:
Tuesday, February 11: Try ice hockey for free.
The event will be held at the Power Pole Arena (6910 Asphalt Ave., Tampa, FL 33614) from 5:10 p.m. to 6:10 p.m. Kids ages 4 to 12 are welcome to play ice hockey for free. You can register at this link here.
Wednesday, February 12: High School Hockey Showcase
Thursday, February 13: Lightning Made Training Center open house
Fans are welcome to stop by the Lightning Made Training Center (6910 Asphalt Ave., Tampa, FL 33602) for an open house from 10 a.m. until the end of the Lightning game.
Friday, February 14: Grand opening of the Rowlett Park Rink
The grand opening will be held at 2401 E. Yukon St. from 3:30 p.m. to 5:30 p.m. Mayor Jane Castor will be in attendance, along with current and former Bolts players.
Saturday, February 15: College Hockey day game times are 4pm and 8pm.
Florida State will face off against Tampa at the Clearwater Ice Arena (13940 Icot Blvd., Clearwater, FL 33760) at 4 p.m. Miami faces USF at 8 p.m. at the Advent Health Center Ice (3173 Cypress Ridge Blvd, Wesley Chapel, FL 33544.
Sunday, February 16: Girls Hockey 3 v 3 Series 6:10-7:10pm
The girls will compete in a 3 v 3 scrimmage with a variety of girls from various teams in the Tampa Bay area at Power Pole Arena Home of Xtra Ice (6910 Asphalt Ave, Tampa, FL 33614).
Monday, February 17: Grand Opening of the Sadie Park Rink, presented by Florida Blue, Grand Opening 8:15 a.m. - 3 p.m.
Will be held at the Brandon Park (502 E. Sadie St., Brandon, FL 33510) from 8:15 a.m. to 3 p.m.